Originally from Beirut, Mayssa Fattouh and her family have landed in Barcelona and with them brought us Summak Lebanese Street Kitchen. Their take on the food of their homeland delivers fresh flavors and refinement of that rich culinary tradition which they hope will transform the reputation of Lebanese food in the city.
There are dishes here for all tastes: fatayer, Lebanese spinach pies; foul bel zeit, fava beans with coriander and garlic; kebbeh bel laban, balls of bulgur wheat, beef and lamb with strained yogurt and vermicelli rice; fish tajin stew, or cauliflower tabbouleh. Manakish, a Lebanese ‘pizza’ plays a starring role with toppings such as spicy kishk dried yogurt paste with chili and three cheeses (akari, halloumi and bulgari) or a more local-flavored chorizowith quails’ eggs.
To finish there’s sfouf turmeric cake, balouza milk pudding topped with orange jelly and drinks like freshly squeezed lemon or pomegranate juices, Lebanese beer, arak mojitos and thyme G&Ts.
With eyes that light up at any mention of bread, Yellow Bakery owner Paul Stoykovich could be described as a dough devotee. After years working as a restaurant and private chef, his first touch of dough had him wondering why he’d been wasting his time cooking for so long. Arriving in Barcelona from Australia via a period of study at the San Francisco Baking Institute, he and his wife Layla made the city their home, renovating this former Gòtic bakery with traditional and contemporary elements and naming it after the Sydney bistro where they met.
Baking starts at 10pm and follows a 36-hour process with certified organic flours including kamut and spelt. They single-handedly produce 300 organic sourdough loaves a day, not to mention brioche, quiches and seasonal pastries such as nectarine pie. These, as well as their loaded lunchtime sandwiches, are a must-try when you’re in the neighborhood.
Pinhan has taken the average park chiringuito and turned it on its head. Located in the shade of the 100-year-old trees of Turó park, the setting and their wonderfully varied, Turkish-influenced menu make it an ideal choice for an outdoor brunch, lunch or cooling after-work drink.
Start the day with, among other options, simit, a crusty Turkish bread ring eaten with kasar cheese, ricotta and fig, sucuk – cured spicy sausage – or pastrami and rocket. Lunch offers a choice of seasonal or grain salad, organic beef and quinoa burgers, or enticing sandwiches filled with Bosphorus grilled fish, wood-fired sumac chicken or slow-roasted lamb shoulder with smoked hummus and pickled cabbage.
Beat the heat with perfumed lemonades, cold-pressed juices or a chilled glass of wine, and accompany it with an aperitivo from a choice of Turkish mezze. With just an hour’s notice, they’ll also pack you up a picnic basket which includes a bottle of wine or cava to enjoy in the park.
Keen to escape the ubiquitous fried tapas, Pepa Pla, the recently opened addition to the Pla family of restaurants, focuses on simplicity and no frying. Everything is prepared raw, marinated, grilled or lightly blow-torched.
From a menu that marries traditional flavors with international influences, diners can choose from dishes like a simple yet delicious green salad; a sandwich of octopus, seaweed & romesco; a Japanese okonomiyaki savory pancake with foie; or peas, calamari & Argentine chimichurri sauce. Pair with a natural wine from a small Spanish winery and finish with a brioche of melted chocolate & meringue washed down with a mini porrón of sweet, Ratafia dessert wine.
The setting too is to be savored. Pepa Pla is located in an old bookshop, where the charm has been preserved in the original tile floor, exposed brick, and wooden bookcases. If you’re lucky to grab one of the few rear tables you can also enjoy watching the chefs in the open kitchen hard at work.
After a stint running a tapas bar in Paris, Jordi Zurita Elvira, Julie Joseph and Gilles Creuzot decided it was time to open a modern yet laid-back, neighborhood bar/restaurant in Barcelona.
Eschewing the overused trend for pastel and rustic interiors, Elvira is bold but elegant, and the homemade, seasonal food brings traditional Catalan and Mediterranean cooking up-to-date, often with touches from international cuisines. The excellent-value menu del día includes dishes such as confited Iberian pork with apple, beef medallions with smoked chimichurri, duck rillettes & mango salad, or pickled sardines with sun-dried tomatoes, allioli, rocket & Kalamata olives.
Contemporary tapas, plates and desserts are served all day and evening: pork paprika Arbizu sausages with honey & Idiazabal cheese, fried artichokes with yellow aji mayo, or oven-baked Crémeux du Jura cheese. End on a high note with crema catalana mousse or fresh cheese ice cream with confited figs.
With its impressive patisserie selection, elegant French café feel, efforts at sustainability and loving nod to the heritage of the owner’s native city, Bristol Café has many reasons to pay it a visit. Hailing from Mar del Plata on Argentina’s east coast, the grand Bristol Hotel was a feature of bourgeois life there.
Now the walls of its namesake are graced with antique photos and dish names on its menu pay homage to the beaches and squares nearby. They serve from breakfast to dinner, and whether you start the day with a French croque monsieur, share a typical Catalan or Argentine tapa, enjoy a fresh sandwich, salad or burger or indulge in a large slice of dulce de leche meringue, expect everything to be homemade from high-quality local produce.
Bristol Café are keen to keep waste to a minimum too. There’s no plastic bottled water here; instead it comes filtered and mineralized from the tap, served in their own branded reusable glass bottles.
Burret’s is a ‘fast casual’ joint born out of adventure and the desire for a healthy lifestyle. Conceived on a beach by surfing and CrossFit fanatic childhood friends Uri and Sergi, they decided university wasn’t for them, quit mid-exams and followed their passion for food instead.
A success story through crowdfunding, they now bring Barcelona the burritos, tacos and nachos they have encountered on their travels at the city’s first organic Tex-Mex restaurant. Order at the counter to eat in or take away, and then sit back among the surfboards and urban art as your food is prepared. The focus here is on high-quality, healthy and ethical ingredients: everything is handmade and can be washed down with organic sparkling drinks, beer or wine, and finished off with desserts such as raw vegan cake or rose sponge.
If you’re up for a challenge while you wait, try and beat the record on the pull up bar out back… in the unlikely event you succeed, a free burrito is yours.
Independent Label Market
A must-mark date on the record digger’s calendar, Independent Label Market returns to CREC warehouse for a second year to showcase labels and producers from the local area and further afield. This year brings some top-class collaborations: from the quality sound system courtesy of Sennheiser and Klipsch, the weekend soundtrack is provided by some of the city’s finest DJs and representatives from the attending 50 or so labels, to the live stream via Internet radio station dublab.es.
Keep yourself going with hot drinks from La Cherry Coffee, gourmet fish and chips from the Barcelona restaurant of the same name, a craft beer from Garage or something stronger provided by Coctelería Jägermeister. Fonts of all vinyl knowledge Discogs will be supporting throughout the two-day event, and for those who want to soak up the music beyond the 8pm finish, there’s an array of parallel events going on at some of the best venues around the city.
The Koh-i-Noor diamond may be set into one of the British Crown Jewels, but this family-run restaurant of the same name has in just six months set itself up as a jewel in the Barcelona curry scene. In typical curry house style the interior is vivid, the lighting bright and the welcome warm and inviting, a mark of the owners’ Punjabi hospitality.
Koh-i-noor prides itself on using fresh ingredients with everything made to order using authentic Indian spices. Among the classic curry and extensive vegetarian dishes there’s some standout differences on the menu: korma with cashew nut sauce, shrimp pakoras, hake with green mint sauce, cilantro and coconut milk and the slightly sweet butter chicken (made with roast chicken) that they are so proud of.
Among the commonly found breads you can also choose a mint naan or herb-and-spice onion bread followed by some gems for dessert: homemade ice creams of pistachio or mango and nuts.
The blooms of geraniums, Moorish tiles and brilliantly patterned crockery at Señorito will have you questioning whether you’re in Sant Antoni or Sevilla. Here they’ve brought the colors and flavors of Andalucía northwards; marinated and lightly fried dogfish cazón en adobo, thin slices of chicharrones belly pork from Cádiz, oxtail cannelloni, Cordoban tomato and bread salmorejo soup with quail’s egg and ham, or prized sturgeon caviar salad from Granada are all delivered with knowledgeable and attentive service.
Being a tapas restaurant, there’s freshly grilled seafood, jamón de bellota and specialty canned fish (from the Bay of Roses) but you can also try molletes, typical soft flatbreads from Málaga with fillings such as rural pringa stew, Payoyo cheese from Sierra de Grazalema or fried calamari with “inked” aïoli. If you need just one reason alone to visit, the dessert of sous-vide strawberries with Pedro-Ximénez sherry, vanilla ice cream and lemon verbena is your excuse.
Wallet depleted after the summer vacation? With an air of Mexican dive bar, Pachuco’s generous portions washed down with peso-priced micheladas mean good food and drink doesn’t have to be out of reach. Consider a michelada, the beer equivalent of a Bloody Mary and the perfect accompaniment to the chili pork, pork rinds, guacamole, black beans or cactus filling an assortment of meat and vegetarian tacos, quesadillas, snacks or huge servings of nachos on the menu.
End the meal with a dessert such as fried green banana with cream and sugar, or better, be a little pachuco (elegant Mexican gangster-type) yourself and savor a shot or two from the “book of mezcal.” This menu of around 30 types of the agave spirit drink details the characteristics, provenance and distillation methods of each. So whether rich or poor after summer away, as the Mexicans say: “Para todo mal, mezcal, y para todo bien, también.”
El Magraner Boig
Until now, high-quality, true Hellenic cooking was a notable absence on the Barcelona restaurant scene. Thankfully, Megara-born Kostis has filled that gap with authentic Greek dishes and atmosphere at his laid-back yet animated Raval restaurant El Magraner Boig (Η τρελή ροδιά).
With a Mythos beer or tsipouro in hand, struggle to choose between sublime, fried Feta saganaki, kolokithokeftedes fried zucchini balls with dill, kokkinisto beef stew with French fries (something the Greeks do fantastically well) or arnaki frikase lamb stew with lettuce, spring onions, aromatic herbs and avgolemono egg-lemon sauce. Be sure to order the simply wonderful patates fournou, potatoes roasted in lamb stock that you’ll be reminiscing about for days later.
The tzatziki yogurt is creamy and thick, the pita bread the type you rarely see outside of Greece and desserts such as Greek yogurt with sour cherry or rose jam or kataifi angel hair pastry stuffed with nuts and syrup are simple and deliciously satisfying.
Splitting his time between Barcelona and London, Scottish cook and writer Philip Dundas has his feet firmly planted in two distinct cuisines. Over one weekend a month, however, the divide unites and results in Radish, the newest pop-up eating experience in the city.
Radish combines the flavors of Philip’s native British Isles with those of the Iberian region, offering a Friday evening dinner, Saturday lunch and a traditional Sunday afternoon roast. Start by taking in Yök’s marvelous vista with a moreish Bloody Mary granita before moving on to dishes you’ll wish you’d heard of before: potato and cabbage rumbledethumps with egg carpaccio and anchovies; Cullen Skink creamy, smoked fish soup; baby squid stuffed with haggis.
For Sunday tuck into slow roast organic lamb with asparagus, or roast Basque beef with chanterelles. The dessert options are seldom seen here, such as rhubarb crumble or cranachan, creamy yogurt served with crunchy oats and vermouth-marinated fruit.
Being many things to many people can be a difficult task to pull off. Yet Bar Seco proves that if you believe in what you’re doing, then it’s absolutely possible.
For ten years prior to current trends, this Slow Food km0-embracing café and tapas bar has been feeding us breakfasts and lunches with hormone-free meats, plenty of vegetarian and vegan plates, gluten and lactose-free choices, and ingredients sourced from local producers and the organic garden they run with sister restaurant Rasoterra in Sant Feliu de Llobregat. Their forays now extend into the evening when the bar takes on an informal bistro feel, with a new team led by head chef Josete, formerly of Romero and Pla.
By also adding mixologist Jordi to the blend, cocktails like Red Fruits Whim (gin, lemon, raspberry, strawberry & spicy ginger beer) can be stirred up to enjoy while you savor a vegetable or fish ceviche, vegetarian Russian salad with seaweed & vegan mayo or tender magret of duck.
A Taste of Sicily
Considering the Barcelona street food explosion of recent years, it’s taken a while for the fast food of Sicily and its exquisite sweet treats that predominantly feature ricotta, to filter through. But finally they have and the city is all the better for them.
At Les Dues Sicilies, there are piles of arancini, the fried rice balls that look like the ‘little oranges’ their name denotes. They are stuffed with minced beef ragu, mushrooms, Iberian ham or prawns and those with a conicle or square form are the traditional way to distinguish the different fillings. For dessert try a slice of pear and ricotta tart or green icing topped cassata, a typical dessert of marsala soaked sponge, ricotta, candied fruit and chocolate.
Raval´s Corazon Siciliano serves parmigiana siciliana, slices of fried eggplant layered with tomato and pecorino or an arancino where the rice has been blended with 4 cheeses before frying. Those with a sweet tooth can sample salame de cioccolato, a round slice of thick chocolate made with broken biscuits and nuts that uncannily resembles the meat version of the same name.
In La Pizza, for savoury go for the spinach, ricotta and mozzarella filled pie, that sits between a layer of fine pizza crust. For sweet there can only be one choice, cannolo, a deep fried puckered pastry shell filled with sweetened ricotta. Turn up at the right time and you might find yourself enjoying an impromptu piano performance from a talented customer or two whilst you wait for your order.
Just as the kingdoms of Sicily and Naples were paired before Italian unification, the food of both regions is often found side by side in this city. So next time you’re considering that pizza or calzone, consider swapping that Neapolitan choice for a new flavour from the island instead.
Silvia, the name behind Sil’s Cakes American Pastry isn’t American at all, but a partly self-taught, partly Hofmann-trained local who discovered her love of making pâtisserie while pregnant.
Her shop has recently relocated from Sant Gervasi to Gràcia, bringing with it a new look and authentic glazed donuts, pecan pie and deep-filled, baked cheesecakes topped with runny caramel, Oreos, inch-thick meringue or cookie dough. The smart wooden displays are topped with classic iced cinnamon rolls, gooey brownies and triple-layer cakes such as white chocolate and raspberry. And what classic Stateside-style bakery would be complete without a swirl-topped cupcake or two?
There’s enough to satisfy the most passionate cake lover or seriously homesick American. You can get involved too with her regular workshops, or order a New York City, Philly or Brooklyn-themed sweet table for your next celebration or event.
Tortilla de patata without eggs – is that possible? Zaraida, the chef behind VegetArt, has made it happen. Using chickpea flour and cooking it slowly for an hour, she has achieved what would seem an impossible creation. The world’s first Catalan vegan takeaway, Vegetart offers dishes made from fresh vegetables every day. No GM ingredients make it into the food, which includes dishes such as canelones, “meat” balls, daily soups and various takes on hummus. Protein is sourced from peas, sesame and soy, which are tastier than the standard vegan choice of tofu.
With Zaraida’s pastry chef background, it’s no surprise that cakes such as apple, lemon & cinnamon, pear with almonds or gluten-free cookies are also popular. No doubt the sugar-free cookies in the pipeline will prove another hit, too. VegetArt hosts workshops for those interested in learning more about vegan cooking. Be sure to keep an eye out for her book on vegan Catalan cuisine, coming soon.
Less than three months in and already diners are lining up out the door, keen to get a seat at the communal tables and a taste of the subtly left-field, wood-fired pizzas of Parking Pizza.
The menu has one foot firmly in Neapolitan pizza tradition and the other in modern Mediterranean cuisine. Start with a creamy burrata or Lombardy specialty bresaola, or go vegan with guacamole or hummus instead, all served with rosemary focaccia. There’s a choice of three vegetarian salads, including red quinoa, avocado and poached egg, but it’s the pizzas that are the real stars of the show.
Typical toppings are accompanied by interesting additions such as pepperoni, tomato and fennel flowers; Fontina, egg and red onion with butifarra; and broccoli and three cheeses (Gorgonzola, Taleggio and Pecorino) with shallots and sage. Pizza wheels are on the table for rapid, mess-free cutting… now why didn’t anyone think of that sooner?
For Barcelona cheese aficionados there’s a wonderful world of lactic pleasure to be had, one that extends beyond the commonly found Catalan and French selections.
Those who want to savour a two-year-aged Dutch Gouda, a Norwegian Gjetost, a British Shropshire Blue or a Swiss L’Etivaz should head to Can Luc for their fix, as well as to be enlightened with detailed advice, interesting facts and curiosities about the cheeses’ origins and production methods. Many come with protected D.O. status or are made with unpasteurized milk. And of course there are the finest regional and Gallic examples too, with quality crackers, jams, mustards and pickles available to further enhance the gratification.
Luc also helps celebrate the satisfaction of cheese with friends at private cheese and wine tastings for groups of six to twelve, loans raclette and fondue equipment for your own get-togethers, and prepares trays of cheeses for picnics, meetings or lunches.
Wishing to take her guests on a gastronomic journey to her Ethiopian homeland without them having to leave Barcelona, 12 years ago Rahel opened restaurant Abissinia, named after the ancient Ethiopian Empire. That journey, seated on a three-legged stool around a low table and eaten with the hands, often involves a sharing platter including dishes such as Meser Kek lentils stewed with onion, garlic and Berbere, Sega Wot beef stewed with tomatoes, onion and Berbere and Alecha potato and carrot sautéed with onion, turmeric, garlic, ginger and basil. All are made with high quality, locally sourced ingredients and served on Injera bread, a savoury crepe style bread made with teff flour and sourdough starter, the Berbere blended from 22 spices. For adventurous eaters there are house specials such as Kitfo, minced raw beef marinated in chilli spice mix and clarified butter and to end the adventure, an award-winning fruit salad of papaya, mango, guava, mint and cinnamon.
Britta's Nordic Deli
The arrival of summer also marked the opening of Britta’s Nordic Deli. Catering to homesick Scandinavians missing their gravad lax or unusual confections, as well as to Barcelonians keen to sample the flavors of northerly European climes, this deli and sandwich shop adds variety to the shopping basket, an abundance of gluten-free choices and a welcome change to the weekday take-away lunch scene.
As well as the charcuterie of wild boar and venison, Nordic cheeses, smoked halibut and wild salmon on the deli counter, there are great sandwiches: marinated salmon with mustard and dill dressing and redcurrant, mild blue cheese with blueberry and cranberry jam, or smoked turkey breast with mild tarragon curry cream, with gluten-free seeded bread available.
Throw in an organic elderflower juice or mint lemonade from the shelves, some salty, chili cranberry licorice to chew on later, and you have a midday meal with a difference.
Update: This shop is now closed.
Donate and earn a tax break
As Europe sees it largest movement of displaced people since the WW2 and our TV screens and newsfeeds are filled with every more heart breaking images of people fleeing war, persecution, and dictatorships, it’s natural to feel powerless and frustrated at how little you can help. Whilst grassroots movements across Europe are doing an excellent job in collecting and delivering practical donations for refugees camped in Calais or those landing in ever increasing numbers to the Greek islands of Kos and Lesbos and the Sicilian island of Lampedusa, a regular monthly donation to one of the many NGOs (ONGs in Spanish) that are working in the regions affected can provide longer term support and will continue to do so long after the media hot topic has died away.
Interestingly this is also a way to cut your own tax bill if you are tax resident in Spain and do the annual ‘Declaración de Renta’ which can mean you could ultimately donate more than you originally thought.
There are many reasons why people are moving in suddenly such huge numbers. One of those is the dwindling resources and lack of funding at refugee camps and refugee support agencies. A regular contribution allows NGOs to budget, plan and provide for those who need their help in a way that one off donations doesn’t allow.
So how does it work? An annual donation of 150€ in 2015 to a charitable organisation will give you a tax credit of 50% when it’s time to do the renta, that means you would get 75€ of that back from the Spanish government. Or put another way, if you could maybe only afford a 10€ a month regular donation, you could maybe push it to nearly 15€ because the Spanish government are picking up the extra. The donation limit could be more depending on the charity you donate to and the requirements they comply with. In 2016 that tax credit will raise even higher to 75%. If you donate beyond 150€ annually a tax credit is still given on the amount above the first 150€ of around 27 – 30% and if you donate 150€+ for 2 years or more to the same organisation then that percentage increases also. There are also similar benefits for corporate donations so it’s worth speaking to a gestor if you own a business to understand more.
Nothing is required from you beyond the monthly payment and asking the organisation to send you a ‘certificado de donación’ and for you to complete form ‘Modelo 182’ at the time of the renta, although in reality the charity will usually send you the certificate automatically and your total donations will appear in your draft borrador statement anyway.
Don’t be deceived by the name, the chefs behind Poble Sec bar/restaurant Mano Rota have complete control of their extremities and grasp of their art. Having met at the prestigious Hofmann cooking school and then passed through the kitchens of some of Spain’s and one of Peru’s best restaurants, Bernat Bermudo and Oswaldo Brito now bring all they have learned together for the enjoyment of Barcelona’s gourmands.
At the bar, leave it to them to excite your palate with their selections from one of two tasting menus. If you prefer to keep the decisions in your own hands then take a table and order from the menu – delights such as smoked sardine and roast tomato salad, croquettes of yucca and Italian Scamorza cheese with citrus mayonnaise, beef cheeks with apple and fennel or a more traditional plate of Spanish ham, red prawns on the grill or high-quality classic aperitivos.
Mercat de la Terra
Anyone familiar with the novels of Barcelona writer Manuel Vázquez Montalbán won’t fail to note his gastronomic predilections. Although no longer with us, he lives on through Slow Food Barcelona Vázquez Montalbán who, after six years of success outside the city, have brought the countryside to the urban bustle with a series of farmer’s markets.
Under the iconic towers of Poble Sec’s Tres Xemeneies (three chimneys) and following the Slow Food movement principals of good (bo), clean (net) and fair (just), the market unites city dwellers with farmers and artisans and their produce, created using traditional methods that respect the environment. Expect organic fruit and vegetables, honeys, bakery, dairy produce, meats and even organic seedlings that you can plant on a sunny balcony or terrace at home.
Vázquez and his detective Pepe Carvalho would be proud.
Blink and you’d almost miss it, but behind the small Forn de Pa shopfront at Hospital Clínic, Cloudstreet Bakery is bringing baking heritage to the modern day.
Fueled by a 90-year-old, wood-fired oven they have lovingly restored, these bread aficionados are producing loaves and pâtisserie with organic, stone-ground flours, pre-ferments and reappearing grains such as spelt, khorasan wheat and rye. They believe the direct flame of the old oven, different than that of modern ovens, adds a distinctive touch to the dough.
They have their hand in the classics too: country loaves, French baguettes and generous empanadas all grace the beautifully renovated shop, as well as some international items like Australian Lamingtons, British hot cross buns or caramel slices and American cinnamon rolls. Fridays offer gluten-free options and you’ll also find them at the Van Van or Palo Alto markets.
Les Tres a la Cuina
Les Tres a la Cuina is not a new kid on the Gràcia block, but since February it has become a family affair with the arrival of a new set of “three in the kitchen.” Lifelong cook Paqui, son and chef Nacho and daughter Sara have taken over the reins where the previous owners left off. The colorful, vibrant, healthy, home-cooked dishes bursting with compelling combinations of seasonal vegetables, roasted meats, fresh herbs and some unfamiliar spices haven’t gone anywhere.
Monday to Friday, lunchtime diners can still enjoy a menu which includes dishes such as grilled pumpkin with hazelnuts, Parmesan and basil, marinated pork chops with potatoes and lime, or desserts like cardamom-scented rice pudding. There’s now the addition of more local flavors too, such as spinach and asparagus with béchamel, trinxat made with zucchini and fried garlic, or paella of seafood or vegetables.
Eating here is no longer limited to midday. Weekday breakfasts of sandwiches, homemade granola with yogurt and honey, fried eggs or toast with their own jam are now served from 9am. As lunchtime approaches the fridge becomes filled with enticing trays to choose a takeaway portion from, or eat there as an alternative to the full lunch menu.
Brunch lovers will also have another spot to enjoy their weekend eggs in various guises when Saturday opening resumes again this month, available from 11am through to 4:30pm for the late risers. Although sadly not open in the evening, Les Tres a la Cuina will host a personalized, private group dinner on request.
The Fish & Chips Shop
There are no deep fryers out front, nor the waft of malt vinegar emanating from old newspaper, but Barcelona now has a modern take on the British chippy in the form of The Fish & Chips Shop.
Two Pakistani brothers are offering lightly battered fillets of sustainable, line-caught hake nestled with fresh chips in newsprinted cones. They also have a deep-fried avocado version for vegetarians. Both are served with traditional tartar sauce, mango chutney or yogurt sauces, all of which are homemade. With a more local flavor, there’s calamari in its ink sandwiched with aioli and smoked salt, or a fat salt cod burger.
The Fish & Chips Shop is about more than licking satisfied, greasy fingers though. It’s an airy café bar serving up good coffee with a colorful cupcake or breakfast pastry, a lunchtime bikini or gourmet sandwich, Sunday vermouth or a strong cocktail to start the long night ahead.
It’s not often that you eat a four-plate lunch and leave the restaurant feeling that you’ve done your body a favor. Yet it does happen, especially when you eat that lunch at Arc Iris. Barcelona’s longest-standing vegetarian restaurant, for nearly fifty years they have been serving the city fresh, simple, unpretentious and guilt-free food.
Their corner of Diagonal captures a light that illuminates and enhances the white tablecloths and airy, bistro feel. Each table is laid with a basket of varied white and seeded breads and a large bottle of water, both of which you can enjoy without limit while tucking into the generous, ten-euro set menu.
Start with a vibrant, noticeably crisper salad than is usual in Barcelona or use that chewy bread to dip into a creamy, soothing leek soup. To continue you may find the comforting, rich and garlicky, wholegrain artichoke rice on the menu and follow it with mushroom and camembert-stuffed crêpes, if you’ve space, or if not, a lighter plate of roasted, oregano-sprinkled tomato and zucchini. End gently with a piece of seasonal fruit such as quince or mandarin, a helping of yogurt and muesli, kefir or a surprising, dairy-free plum cake which is delicate but feels like a treat.
Lunch is all they serve here. Catch them every afternoon except Sunday and be on your way to the office again within the hour thanks to the friendly, seamlessly efficient service or linger for longer over a glass of wine or a beer if you’re in no rush. Note, however, there’s no caffeine hit to send you on your way as no coffee or tea is served – just that self-satisfied feeling to carry you off with a happy, full stomach and a non-expanding waistline.
Devour Food Tour
The way to really know a place is to “eat” it: spend time with the locals, savor the cuisine and walk its streets. Devour Barcelona Food Tours would agree, as they educate and illuminate on their intimate tour, which they started in Madrid and have now brought to Barcelona.
Taking you on a nine-stop jaunt around Gràcia – that most independently minded neighborhood – the tour will acquaint you with some of the cornerstones of Catalan cuisine. A typical tour, with a group of no more than twelve people, begins with a Catalan Champagne (cava) breakfast of a grilled sausage and green pepper sandwich before meandering through the two-story-housed streets to a late 19th-century market to sample olives, bacalao (salt cod) and a selection of cheeses. Meanwhile the guide and stallholders enlighten you on provenance and their own trading history.If you don’t know your fiery picual from your milder arbequina then the tasting of organic Spanish extra-virgin olive oils should fill in the gaps. Indulge in Catalan classics such as escalivada and a tapa with romesco sauce along the way, or find out what the vermouth tradition is all about in a family run bar where the posters go back for as many generations as the owners.
The tour ends with a satisfied appetite for food and knowledge in a hundred-year-old family bakery with a mini, burnt cream sponge and coffee, but that’s not until you’ve also sampled the anarchistic bomba, a ground beef and potato croquette, and made your own ubiquitous pa amb tomàquet, or bread with tomato. Nor until you’ve been shown the melting pot that is modern Barcelona, when you’ve sampled handmade Syrian pastries and learned the owner’s surprising story of how he made Barcelona his home
Film & Cook
It’s the event that seems to revolve round every year quicker than a cinematographer’s reel. Film & Cook is back for its 4th edition this month with some added spice and garnishes to keep us drooling.
Over the Barcelona weekend of the festival the majority of the programming is a delicious blend of food films and talks, cookery or cocktail demonstrations by some of the leading lights in the Catalan culinary scene such as Albert Raurich of Dos Palillos or Paco Perez of Miramar. There’s gems from the barrios too such as in the short film ‘La bomba de la Barceloneta’ which celebrates the spicy sauce topped meat and mashed potato ball so iconic of the Barceloneta neighbourhood.
Yet the festival looks beyond the talent on the Iberian Peninsula by celebrating Mexico and some of its strongest talents as special guests this year. Learn about the richness and preservation of traditional Mexican cooking in the series of documentaries entitled ‘Elogio a la cocina mexicana’ and at the same time be immersed in the fusion of Mexican and Japanese cuisine with Mexican chef Ricardo Ruiz or Alejandra Rivas of Rocambolesc , who together with husband Joan Roca of the world renowned Cellar Can Roca produce gourmet ice cream which inspires the desserts at the 3 Michelin star Girona restaurant.
As in previous editions the films of the festival are divided into 3 categories, Sección Competitiva (prize winning films) Sección Exhibición and Sección Unexpected Films. This year also sees the addition of a series of films paying homage to the history and art of cocktail making on the big screen followed by cocktail demonstrations, as well as the obligatory tastings of course!
Market and taste is another new addition for this season, running from 17:00 – 22:00 this market of national and international gourmet and delicatessen products will be open for tasting and buying directly from their creators, entry is free to all.
Tucked down a side street of the Born, away from the bustle and fumes of Via Laietana, is probably the last place you’d expect to find traditional food from West Africa being served up. Yet Teranga has been doing just that, sharing steaming hot dishes of the Gambian and Senegalese staples yucca, rice and couscous with the population of the city for years.
In Wolof, one of many languages and the lingua franca of Senegal, “teranga” means “hospitality” and is something that the Senegalese are proud of. You’ll be made very welcome here as you are presented the menu on a small number of individual, elaborately decorated cards. The choice is limited, but who needs lots of options when flavors are abundant and the dishes have names you’re unlikely to have come across before?
Try Maafe, rice or couscous with cubes of beef in a deep red peanut sauce. Sample Thiébou Yapp, fried rice piled high with aromatic vegetables and more beef or lamb. Or how about chicken Yassa swaddled in translucent, melting onions and vegetables? Boulettes are fish balls bathed in tomato and onion. Or for a completely meat-free option, there’s floury yucca topped with a mound of fragrant, wilted spinach.
For a quick lunch, laid-back dinner or eating in a group, Teranga is an excellent choice. Ordering is simple and portions are large, coming in well under €10 each. Plus there’s the added bonus of being amused by someone who makes the mistake of loading up their bread with the incredibly fiery paste that comes as you wait for your plate. Beware, a gentle dab is plenty, even for the most hardened chili lover!
Accompany your meal with a memorable long drink of ginger and rum, or choose it to end as a chupito shot to give your taste buds a final wake up.
Update: as of spring 2015 this restaurant is closed.
Are you a visitor to Barcelona wanting to learn more about local dishes and how to prepare them
when you go home? Do you live here and want to brush up on your Spanish culinary skills, learn to
prepare the dishes you eat out regularly or offer an alternative activity to your visitors coming to
town? If so then attending a cookery class or chef demonstration with Barcelona Cooking might be
just the thing you’re looking for.
In their two kitchens situated on the La Rambla one of their amiable chefs will guide you through the
preparation of Spanish and Catalan dishes before you sit back at the end of the session and enjoy
the fruits of your efforts. As your wine glass is filled at the beginning of the Spanish Cooking class you
will be talked through what you will make under the guidance and advice of the experienced chef,
then it’s over to you. In a typical class you will hands-on learn the secret of a perfectly set Spanish
tortilla and how to flip it, blend a seasonal gazpacho with watermelon, garnished with a marinated
prawn, cook up an authentic paella that doesn’t include a ounce of nasty food colouring, prepare
Catalan tomato bread without overpowering garlic and watery tomato sauce and cook, chill and
then caramelise a crema catalana dessert. Whether you rarely touch a pan at home or are a
seasoned, experienced cook, there is something for everyone to learn.
Other courses include ‘classic tapas’, an authentic paella demonstration and Boquería market or
tapas tours. All classes are bilingual English and Spanish with a small number also available in
Russian. Barcelona Cooking will also tailor the workshop to dietary requirements, work with you to
deliver a private class on request and offer corporate team building workshops.
Au Port de la Lune
Here in Barcelona we may only be a relative stone’s throw away from the French border yet, unlike in bygone years, the city is not exactly awash with the cuisine of our Gallic neighbors. However twenty years ago, Bordeaux native Guy Monrepos made his way by train across the border and later brought the dishes of his hometown and country to his adopted city.
Au Port de la Lune opened its doors on the outskirts of the Boquería market and it had to move from its bistro-esque, market-side location last year, it fortunately didn’t lose any of its charm. It continues to serve up one of the best quality-versus-value menú del día in Barcelona. The à la carte and lunch or evening set menus mix national dishes and regional specialties suitable for all seasons.
In the hot summer months try the assorted pâtés, Roquefort and walnut salad, some of the best oysters from the mid-France Atlantic coastal region of Marennes-Oléron or the ultra-fresh, raw beef topped with egg steak tartare. When the temperatures drop, then the heavier, legume-packed dishes such as the cassoulet de castelnaudary (white beans, duck confit and pork sausage) or the lentils petit salé (lentils with lightly salted pork belly and carrots) will warm the insides, and the soul.
There’s also a nod to the former French colonies and although not on the regular menu, Au Port’s cooks’ Saïda or Code will, from time to time, bring the aromatic flavours of Senegal or Morocco to the table with chicken and rice yassa or lamb couscous. Round off with the experience of fine French patisserie from the Philippe Lopez workshop in Gràcia (not available in shops) or the Bordeaux classic, the canelé, a baked pastry flavored with rum.
Mercat de Pagès
The Sunday closing of shops and markets, although welcome as a day of rest, can mean that after a week at work, Saturday becomes a toss up between taking a trip out of town or doing the grocery shopping. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Take a short train ride inland from Barcelona and you can load up the shopping basket and soak up some Catalan industrial history and Gaudí architecture at the same time, by visiting the Saturday morning market at Colonia Güell.
The market aims to promote the age old concept of “from earth to table” and brings producers from the nearby Parc Agrari del Baix Llobregat in the river’s delta to the former workers village to sell their seasonal produce, much of which is organic and free from plastic packaging. Alongside the fragrant fruits and vegetables there are locally grown herbs, handmade breads, cheeses, activities for adults and children and the chance to enjoy this interesting location.
Colonia Güell was set up by the Güell family to replace an old factory in Sants and as a social experiment to provide a better lifestyle for their workers, which in turn would presumably bring higher profits for the business. Like most things Güell, Antoni Gaudí had a hand in its creation. Here there is a small, unfinished, yet impressive church which feels strikingly like a Sagrada Familia prototype. Admire this, along with the exhibition about the history of the site and the textile industry in Barcelona, followed by an audio tour of the charming village.
There are several restaurants to stop off for a spot of lunch before heading back to the city. To get there, take one of the many FGC trains from Plaça Espanya to Colonia Güell. A combined return train ticket, entrance to the exhibition, Gaudí church and audio tour guide is €15.30 although entry to the market is free.
Are you hankering after your cured meats with a touch more smokiness? Or maybe you’re looking for a sharp and sour accompaniment to a ripe cheese?
If so, then the shelves of Paprika Gourmet, Barcelona’s only Hungarian delicatessen, are groaning with magyar produce ready to satisfy that urge. You’ll find rows of chutneys, pickles and honeys sitting alongside varieties of mustards and specialty jams. Or be spoiled for choice on the deli counter with naturally smoked salamis and similarly smoked cheeses or those studded with garlic, dill or cranberries.
If you’re in no rush, take a seat by the window and enjoy a Vienna roll or bagel pastrami sandwich bursting with pickles. To wash it all down, ditch the usual Rioja or Priorat for a Zenit or Kadarka from the wide selection of Hungarian wines and liquors.
The Russian word “troika” means “set of three” – a fitting name for this Russian delicatessen as it offers three good reasons to visit: its wide range of Russian produce, its unusual gourmet gifts and its hard-to-find Russian ingredients.
Try some birch or wheat vodka together with dried fish, caviar or smoked mackerel. Create a pica pica platter out of frozen dumplings, smoked sausages and cheeses. Pick from jars of pickled baby squash, mushrooms or tomatoes and zucchini. For the “hard to buy for” why not grab a decorated chocolate box, some kitsch wrapped confectionary, plum liquor or Russian cognac?
Bakers tired of hunting overpriced pâtisserie ingredients will be pleased with the yeasts, flavorings and baking enhancers that come in small, cheap sachets, as well as bags of meringues, cherries in syrup and frozen forest fruits.
There can’t be many restaurants started by an ex-waiter who can barely cook that go on to shine. Yet give a man a pan, some eggs and teach him how to make a tortilla and he’ll unleash a previously undiscovered talent for experimentation. That’s what happened to Joan Antoni Miró in 1978 when he opened Les Truites.
Now, 35 years on, he’s serving a range of 180 varieties of outstanding tortillas (truites in Catalan) in his small Sant Gervasi bar, as well as hosting workshops and publishing cookbooks on the subject. Of course not all those varieties will be on offer at any one time, but rather only a selection chosen depending on the season and availability of ingredients. An average of one thousand of the highest quality, farm-fresh, free-range eggs make into his colorful, decorative and gutsy tortillas every week, and the best way to get a flavor of that variety is with a tasting plate.
Here you are served up nine small, but deceptively filling slices of the day’s range, likely to include a tortilla with croissant, sautéed lightly in butter and combined with salty Iberian ham, a delicacy which attracts visitors from miles around. On a chilly wintry day the selection could also include an assortment with eggplant and mint, gorgonzola and caramelized onion, artichoke, butifarra negra with pig’s feet and white beans, and a calçot-laced version with a layer of piquant romesco sauce slicing through its middle.
There’s a limited range of non-tortilla dishes to complement the main article, if you prefer to save the tortilla for dessert. A second round is almost impossible to resist though when the choice could be tortilla of banana, figs and almonds, cherry or turrón.
Making phyllo pastry is a fine art. The finest is as thin as tracing paper and is a familiar sight across the Balkan region in their pastries and desserts. One such pastry is the Bulgarian banitsa, typically stuffed with cheese and/or spinach. Banitsa is also the name of Mikhaela Mikhaylova’s small café and shop, where for the last five years she has brought Bulgaria to Barcelona and refined the pastries of her homeland with a modern look and contemporary flavors.
She shapes handmade phyllo or imported quality pastry from Greece into pretty roses, filled with beef, slow-cooked onion and eggplant, or into sheets that encase ricotta-stuffed zucchini flowers. For a sweeter tooth, she stuffs the roses with chocolate and confited rose petals, or stewed plums and fresh cheese. Take them away or sit in and enjoy them with a natural, still lemonade or an infusion of Bulgarian thyme, marigold or rose tea. Rose perfume is a common theme among the other Bulgarian products she sells here. Try a jar of rose petal jam, boiled roses or violet candies, or the Bulgarian version of perfumed Turkish delight.
The flavors and fragrances of the Balkans also sing through in the honey, raisins and walnut version of that sweet coffee accompaniment, as well as in the pine resin and rosehip jellies, and the cherry or red grapefruit fruit juices. Yet the art of this fine pastry making no longer needs to stay a mystery. Mikhaela regularly runs four-hour workshops where she banishes misconceptions about its difficulty and gives you the chance to make a savory and sweet banitsa, followed by the obligatory tasting. The courses are not listed on the website so contact them for information.
Mercat de Mercats
As if Barcelona wasn’t already awash with splendid neighbourhood markets, this year once again brings together the produce and vendors of the 39 distinct municipal markets to celebrate the 4th annual edition of the Mercat del Mercats, or ‘Market of Markets’.
From the 18th – 20th October the Plaça Catedral running down to the entrance of Born’s Santa Caterina market will be awash with producers, viticultores, brewers and outstanding quality products from Catalan soils as well as the same from further afield, previous editions have seen visiting exhibitors of organic goods from France or pesto producers from Italy. Take the everyday scene from the barrio markets and then imagine the stalls here piled high with even more stunning displays and variety of cured meats, bakery, cheeses, the finest meats, herbs and honeys.
For those wishing to improve their cooking and preparation skills the gastronomy classroom ‘Aulà Gastronomica’ will return with demonstrations from some of the great contemporary chefs of the regional culinary scene and will for the first time bring dessert and pastry demonstrations into the offering. Unfortunately it’s as yet unannounced who will be sharing their skills this time round but previous years have seen market stallholders rub shoulders with chefs from El Bulli and Japanese Restaurant Icho.
However, it’s probably the tasting sessions which were the biggest runaway success with last year’s 250,000 visitors. Purchase numerous tickets for food and/or wine and use them to sample tapas size dishes coming out of the kitchens of some of the city’s finest and most innovative restaurants or to taste wines coming from the best regional vineyards and cellers.
Along with the cooking demonstrations the list of establishments offering tasters has also not yet been made available however as with previous years the run up to the event will get you in the mood with announcements made on the Mercat blog http://mercatdemercats.wordpress.com/
The history and movement of the Jewish people throughout the world means their cuisine is as rich and diverse as their heritage. This melting pot of culture is available to experience in Barcelona at the city’s only kosher restaurant, Delicias Kosher, where Middle Eastern tastes share the menu with Central European, North African and Iberian flavours.
Jewish family owned and certified by Barcelona’s Chief Rabbi as conforming to the Jewish dietary laws, this is a must visit for those who observe kashrut, but Jewish or not, it’s worth making the trip up the steep hills of Sarria to try Moroccan shakshuka baked eggs in a spicy tomato sauce, Israeli salad of sliced vegetables fragranced with lemon and mint or grilled meat skewers with mejadara rice and lentils, perfumed with coriander seed and fried onions. Tracing origins northwards through Europe there’s Andalucian gazpacho, Viennese schnitzel or the paprika spiced Hungarian goulash stew, prepared here with beef. Compliment these dishes with kosher wine from predominantly around Spain and finish with an Austrian apple strudel or the delightful buttery, tart lemon meringue pie made in house. Remember to not make the trip between late afternoon on Friday and Sunday morning or you’ll find the doors firmly closed for the Sabbath.
As well as offering home or hotel delivery, Delicias Kosher have recently opened a deli and minimarket close to the Boquería central market selling snacks, salads and cooked dishes, Israeli products, cheeses, preserves and cured meats such as pastrami, along with pre-prepared menus that mean no cooking on the day of rest. They will also save our legs and bring a second more central branch of the restaurant near to C/Ferran in the barri Gotíc at the end of October this year.
Els Sortidors de Parlament
hat were once the blue graffitied doors of a mechanic’s workshop on Sant Antoni’s Parlament have now been transformed into the welcoming entrance of the very modern bodega Els Sortidors del Parlament. Upturned barrels acting as tables and casks offering vermouth, Tinto de Penedés or Priorat from the sortidors (taps) could lull you for a second into thinking this was just another dusty bodega. Yet through those towering folding doors and under the cool breeze of the rapidly spinning ceiling fans, this cellar opens into a den of gourmet food, drink and art.
Predominantly a spot for taking a glass or two of something cold, their vast selection of wines (both local and from further afield), craft beers, spirits and liqueurs are available to savor in-house or be taken away. But the best drinks should never be guzzled on an empty stomach, and the selection of accompaniments is impressive. Try some salted potato crisps with black truffle with that cold beer, or sliced, cured cecina beef, Picos of Europa cheese with a fine wine, or some prized Galician river canned shellfish (conservas) with a vermouth. If you can handle something richer, why not sample foie, with or without truffle or black chanterelles, or a petite dish of oxtail stew.
You can even leave with a few top-notch ingredients to spruce up the kitchen cupboard: crackers with smatterings of black olives, rosemary or Moroccan spices to embellish a cheeseboard, grapeseed or avocado oils and fruit-based vinegars to liven up a summer salad. Pursuing not only a passion for gastronomy, the owners have decorated the space with their own art. Contemplate the “caged” birds hanging from the roof and ask yourself if those fairground goldfish in bags are real or whether you’ve just had one too many.
Eating options when you’re new to a place often mean restaurant dining out or in your own home or accommodation. But what if there was a third way? A way that also enabled you to share your eating experience as well as life experience, language, culture and not forgetting some high quality, varied food.
Well now there is. EatWith is an exciting new dining option that allows you to be a guest and have a meal with local people or to host visitors who’d like to eat with you. Originating in Israel and launched in Spain in January, it brings a social alternative to traditional dining or networking by only swapping cards.
The concept and opportunity is novel and surprisingly simple. As a guest you can be new to the place or long established there, and can choose your location, currently Israel, Spain or New York, and then the food, experience and budget that appeals to you. And unlike a restaurant, once you decide who you want to EatWith a dialogue is opened up between you and the host to build a relationship before an ingredient has even been bought. Who knows, you may even be like the Israeli couple who found love through through the network. Safety is paramount and there are steps in place to ensure you’re protected as much as possible.
As a host you’ll join 80 others currently across Spain and need to “love cooking and love meeting new people”. Simply register and outline what you’re offering, be it a typical dinner, brunch, cooking class, tasting, or even a vineyard tour, for the group size and price you feel appropriate. EatWith add a small fee on top but what you charge comes directly to you and there’s insurance available to give you peace of mind.
Nísperos, or nespras in Catalan, are a somewhat ugly duckling of the fruit world and when they start to appear in the markets in late April and May, they often look like they’ve been through the wars with their burnt orange and slightly bruised skin.
Loquats or Japanese medlars as they are known in English might not only look slightly unappealing but also may not make it into your basket due their unfamiliarity. Originating in the Far East their sweet yet acidic flavour, as well as being supposedly easy on the stomach and digestive system, they have been embraced and cultivated across the southern Mediterranean since the 19th century.
Loquats can be eaten fresh and are delicious, especially if you like fruit that’s slightly sour, but this same sharpness lends itself well to jams and fruit compotes. Or why not experiment by simmering them slowly with sugar, vinegar and ginger, maybe throw in some chillies, mustard powder or dried fruit and make a punchy chutney to accompany a plate of cheese and bread rather than the usual membrillo.
Sugar really enhances the nísperos though and they can be used in place of plums or cherries in a pastry tart with a filling of ground almonds, butter, sugar and hint of lemon zest. Just remember to adjust the sugar in your chosen recipe to compensate for the tartness. For an easy dinner party dessert lay them halved on a baking tray sprinkled with vanilla sugar, brandy and lemon juice and serve with dollops of whey cheese such as local mató or Italian ricotta, sweetened with icing sugar and maybe another splash of brandy or rum.
Hold back one or two of the small stones, simply push them into the wet soil of a plant pot, leave in the sun and the loquat will also give you an easy, decorative plant for a sunny balcony or terrace in no time.